Somalia' s Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.
In the wake of the Westgate attack, a visibly enraged President Uhuru
told the Government of Somalia to ‘put their house in order’. Standard
on Sunday’s senior political writer, OSCAR OBONYO sought Somalia Prime
Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon’s response and reaction to a host of other
issues, including the al-Shabaab threat, the presence of Kenya Defence
Forces in Somalia and Mogadishu’s stand on the ongoing Uhuru/Ruto cases
at the ICC. Below are excerpts of the interview:
Sunday, October 13, 2013
SUNDAY: Let us begin with President Kenyatta’s remarks. He was clearly
angered by the involvement of some Somali nationals in the attack and
the porous Kenya/Somalia border. What is your reaction?
PM SHIRDON: Our house is not outrightly disorderly. However, I
understand your president’s pain and concern. Al-Shabaab is a common
threat and their actions are a source of pain to all of us in this
region. When Westgate happened, I personally called President Kenyatta
to condole with him and the Kenyan people.
Is Somalia in any way to blame for the rising insecurity in Kenya?
of terror attacks in Kenya are indeed regrettable. Terror neither knows
colour nor race, and no nation willingly abets such a global crime.
Besides Kenyans, citizens of other nations, including Somalia, perished
in the Westgate tragedy. Having lived near Westgate for over a decade, I
am personally touched by this tragedy.
Kenyans feel they are
being deliberately targeted because of their government’s decision to
enter Somalia to pursue al-Shabaab. Comment.
The attacks are not
necessarily because Kenya entered Somalia to pursue al-Shabaab. Terror
threats by al Shabaab, which operates alongside al-Qaeda, have always
been there. This can be demonstrated by the 1998 bombing of American
embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam way before KDF entered Somalia.
But al-Qaeda, not al-Shabaab, executed the 1998 attacks. In fact al-Shabaab was not even in existence then.
But al-Shabaab is a networked international terror group that currently
operates under the wings of al-Qaeda. Separately, I want to appeal to
our Kenyan brothers and sisters not to regret the decision of pursuing
terror gangs in Somalia or even contemplate pulling out just yet. We are
in this together and we will continue to cooperate by sharing
intelligence reports and securing our border.
Some still view your
citizens living in Kenya with suspicion, and there have been proposals
that refugee camps holding Somalis be closed down.
I can only
appeal to the Kenyan Government and people to first cool down. The
Somali, like other Kenyans, share the same destiny and values. And
remember that those who died in Westgate have no uniform colour or
Revisiting President Kenyatta’s sentiments, are you putting your house in order?
Somalia has witnessed many challenges over the last 22 years
including conflict, war, poverty, drought, famine and now the terrorist
threat. We are just emerging from an otherwise failed state to a country
with law and order, peaceful and secure. We now have an operational
public service and have also established an investment law. In summary
we have put in place a recovery plan and recently signed a related pact
with the European Union (EU) in Brussels (Belgium) worth $ 2.4 billion.
What about gross violation of human rights including rampant killing of journalists?
My government has made incredible progress with regard to human
rights, following the setting up of a human rights task force. To date
19 pieces of legislation on investment, media and touching on other
areas have been developed. Five legislations have so far been passed by
The sight of old and collapsing buildings with
bullet holes and cracked walls is a common feature in Mogadishu. Are
there plans to reconstruct and beautify the city?
Somalia’s was a
socialist government and it is not the policy of my government to take
away or re-allocate private property to new individuals. When we are
ready we shall take over buildings and renovate them.
From observation, my guess is that security is your government’s priority.
Security is top priority and we have secured salaries and allowances
for the forces for the first time after 22 years. Equally, my government
has intensively lobbied the United Nations and for the first time an
embargo on purchase of arms has been lifted.
Our focus, meanwhile,
is to enhance the capacity of the Somalia National Force in terms of
training and efficient weaponry. It is imperative that we also win
support from the international community in order to execute our
The presence of KDF in Kismayu, on the other hand,
has particularly been received with mixed reactions. Do you support the
view that they should withdraw from Somalia?
We are very
thankful to the efforts and sacrifice of the Kenyan forces in helping us
smoke out Al Shabaab and we still need them here. Through them we have
made crucial strides in this war and secured a number of towns including
Kismayu, Marka and Baidowa. The Somali people will have the final say
on this matter and about their country.
And how would you describe your relations with the Kenyan Government?
government has strong brotherly relations with Kenya and even at a
personal level with the President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William
Ruto. We intend to keep it this way.
Finally, Mr Prime Minister, what is your take on President Kenyatta and his deputy’s on-going trials at The Hague?
Somalia is a member of the AU (African Union) and we accordingly support the position of AU on the ICC matter.